Saturday, April 14, 2012

The land of the lungi.

The state of Kerala is a top tourist destination. It has a literacy rate of 93.91 per cent which is the highest in India. It is advertised as "Gods own country". Travel magazines name Kerala as one of the "ten paradises" in the world!! It is known for its spice trade and has had many European influences including the Portuguese, which were taken over by the Dutch East India company, French and then the British. It is also supposed to be one of the cleanest states in India.....well not all over Kerala. according to our experience!!

Kerala's principal religions are Hinduism 56%. Islam 24% and Christianity 19% and the amazing fact is that they all get on together and support each other by attending each others festivals.
Christianity reached the shores of Kerala in 52CE with the arrival of St Thomas, one of the Twelve Apostles!!
 Kerala has the highest standard of education due largely to the missionaries that arrived and also the Communist party encouraging everyone to get a basic my informant told me!

But one of the many fascinating things of the clothing habits in this state, is the Keralan Lungi!

Young and old men wear the lungi. It consists of about two yards of fabric and is worn wrapped around the waist and secured  with a knot called a duba. The bottom half of the fabric is then folded up into the waist. There is a certain rhythm to wearing a lungi as the wearer often lets the bottom half down, flaps it around in a sort of fanning way and then tucks it back into the waist.  I was fascinated watching the men in their lungis and wondered if anything is worn underneath....a bit like the Scots and their kilts!! Who can blame anyone for wearing as little as possible in this heat!!!My husband warned me and said I might be in for a big shock when I do find out!!

The Backwaters!

Waking up early and sitting out on the balcony watching life on the waters has to be on of the most special experiences in the world!! Imam calls early, Hindu music and singing come from somewhere beyond the reeds. Fishermen call out to each other, birds are singing and the dratted pigeons and crows are greeting the day too, with much enthusiasm.
Because of the storm there was piles of grass and hyacinth floating by alongside other debris.
We saw heron, many types of kingfishers, darters and even  a fish eagle.

An usual style of fishing!

Time to hit the town.

Soon we were back off to town to visit all our familiar spots. I popped in to look at all the lovely fabric in fabric for sarees and punjabi suits.The selection is amazing. I am on the lookout for one or two really nice pieces to make long tops!

The sun was at its zenith and despite my cool clothes and sun hat it was just too darned hot to enjoy being out, After a light lunch of onion  dosas  we stocked up on a couple of beers , some fruit and headed home.

To get to and from the resort we usually use the bus as it only costs five rupees. They are pretty overworked but get everyone from A to B. We are often a source of fascination as not many tourists use these buses.
Today an elderly fellow kept looking at me and pointing at his eyes and then at mine. I thought maybe he is making a pass....mmm but what he was doing was showing  us that he has lovely blue eyes whereas all the other folk have brown!He tried explaining and the only word we understood was" London" so whether his mother/grandmother went to London, or someone naughty from London was responsible, I am not sure! Getting off the bus he stuck his hand out and tried to pinch my maybe one of his forefathers was El Latino and not from London.
That evening Warren decided to return to town to get supplies and goodness me, the sky clouded over, thunder resounded, lightening lit up the black sky and an ALMIGHTY storm broke out. The wind blew wildly, the shutters slammed and the heavens opened. The insects got excited and flew around buzzing like crazy and of course I was stuck with no light whatsoever!! Wow, thank heavens we are on the second floor. Within half an hour it was all over! A drenched Warren arrived back and all was well! I wonder what havoc was wreaked in that short time?